Consumer Watchdog raises questions about healthcare plan

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Consumer Watchdog raises questions about healthcare planConsumer Watchdog (CW), a non-profit and non-partisan consumer advocacy organization, has issued an appeal to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee to answer questions about how its plan to require all Americans to show proof of insurance or face tax penalties will provide affordable healthcare.

The organization has also criticized the committee for having met behind closed doors last week and for excluding the public from this very important policy debate.

"Americans should not be locked out of any discussion about healthcare reform," it said in a statement.

"Mandatory purchases of private insurance policies without offering a public alternative to the private market is nothing other than a bailout for HMOs whose greed, waste and indifference to our health have created the current mess," it added.

Among the questions the organization addressed to the chairman of the committee Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, was the role of insurance industry lobbyist in the proposed reform, tax penalties, the issue of limits (or a lack thereof) on what insurance companies can charge for coverage as well as protection against junk insurance and against escalating out-of-pocket expenses.

According to CW, Senator Baucus has received more campaign contributions from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries than any other current Democratic member of the House or Senate.

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